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My Trips to Honolulu
Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is a paradise to me. I was fortunate to have attended school there. Due to the availability of job opportunity, I had to leave the island and lived on the mainland. Whenever I have the chance, I enjoy taking a trip to this green and lush, warm and humid, peaceful and friendly, sandal and aloha shirt, shave ice and luau, emerald city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Place to Stay
In the past, I always tried to find a good hotel deal on the Internet. Almost all the hotels are in Waikiki close to the famous beach. They are usually crowded and noisy. I seldom got a good night sleep in one of them. So, I decided to check out the vacation homes on the beach. From the Internet, I found that majority of them are concentrated in an area called North Shore. It is world renowned for its 40-foot wave and a favorite locale for the surfers.
At the time, the lowest-priced vacation home right on the beach cost around $200 a day for a minimum of 5 days and a one-time cleaning fee of $125. It had 2 bedrooms with kitchen, bath, and parking.
It was actually quite economical for a family or a small group of friends considering that money could be saved by eating home-cooked meals. During weekdays, the area is normally very quiet with almost empty beaches. Weekends are another story when traffic jams are common on the two-lane highway. But, nighttime is always very peaceful and the only loud sound is made by the waves pounding the shoreline.
Place to See
Oahu is not very big. In the past, I had taken many trips around the whole island in a car. When there is no traffic, it takes no more than 2 and half hours without stopping at the numerous scenic points. I had been to all the tourist attractions; places like Pearl Harbor Memorial, Polynesian Center, Ala Moana Shopping Mall, Waikiki Beach, Chinatown, International Market Place, Iolani Palace, etc. So, I decided to try out the hiking trails to experience the wilderness side of Honolulu.
It is perhaps the most iconic land mark of Honolulu. Its picture appears on post cards, in commercials and movies. It is one of the dead volcanoes (the other is Punchbowl) that is responsible for the formation of the island. The Navy used to setup an operation inside its massive crater at the beginning of WW2. Now, for $4 per car, visitors can hike through the long trail leading to the rim of the time-worn crater. From there, the visitors can take time to soak in the vista that extends from the distant Waikiki to the blue Pacific Ocean.
It is located deep in the Manoa Valley only 20 minutes from the Waikiki Beach. It is a botanical garden in the middle of a tropical forest unlike the urban botanical garden that most of the people are familiar with. The 2 plus miles trail is easy and leads to a spectacular waterfall that can be seen only during the rainy season. Along the trail, there are so many varieties of colorful and strange-looking plants as well as 10-story trees that will sure make the urban dwellers more appreciative the true beauty of Nature. I saw no wild animals but few birds chirping behind the dense foliage. The only pest was the abundance of mosquitoes which could be repelled by the application of Dee spray. I preferred using a towel to swap them away. But, I needed to do that non-stop.
This 4.5 miles hiking trail is located in North Shore high up in the Pupukea Homestead. The trail starts at the end of a sparsely developed rural spread with horse ranches and luxury mansions intermixing. It is 40 minutes from the Waikiki Beach assuming light traffic condition. Since this area gets only moderate amount of rain half of the year, there are not that many ground coverings, flowers, or plants. Tall trees of many kinds dominate the mountain range. The hiking trail winds up and down but not very strenuous. I saw few birds, no animals of any sort, and no mosquito. My overall experience was very pleasant and refreshing. The hike took around 2.5 hours. Afterwards, I went to the nearby Haleiwa Town Center to try its famous shave ice. On that humid, bright sunny afternoon, the mango-passion fruit flavored snowy treat tasted 100 times better than the 7-11 Slurpee.
It is located on the east side of Oahu, 10 minutes north of Kaneohe, and 30 minutes from the Waikiki Beach. East side normally gets much more rainfalls, thus, it is also more lush and green. With the calm sea and sparse residential dwellings, it can be an ideal sanctum for someone who has been through the hustle and rustle of the concrete jungles. The hiking trail is around 4 miles through dense growths, tangling vines, and slippery muddy path. I saw few birds, no animal, but hungry mosquitoes everywhere. There were 2 twenty-foot wide knee-deep streams with fairly rapid current. Fortunately, there was a guiding rope to help hiker to venture across. My overall experience was adventurous and I was glad that I made it through unscathed with the exception of many itchy mosquito bites.